It’s been long awaited, but plans to have seaplanes on the Clyde River are said to be coming in to land.
Sydney Seaplanes is expected to be the company behind the operations, adding to their routes between Sydney and Canberra, from 2024.
Batemans Bay Business and Tourism Chamber Treasurer Charles Stuart said he was thrilled by the development.
“Hopefully, early next year it will all come to pass,” he said.
“I’m relieved at the news, but also excited for the future because the project does look like it’s going to succeed.”
Plans to bring seaplanes to the Clyde River began in 2017, and have since involved Transport for NSW, Eurobodalla Shire Council and interventions from politicians at the local and state level.
“The chamber started negotiating to get a floating pontoon in the bay in 2017, to offset boating ramps that had been disabled during the construction phase of a replacement bridge [over the Clyde River],” Mr Stuart said.
“Part of the chamber’s push was to ensure that the pontoon was accessible to people with disabilities and be able to take seaplanes of a commercial nature.
“Sydney Seaplanes has said they will look at introducing a commuter service – but there had to be minor modifications to make sure it [the pontoon] can take seaplanes and is also accessible.”
Mr Stuart said the chamber saw the creation of a new seaplane route as a key chance to make accessing Batemans Bay – and the surrounding region – easier.
“We see Batemans Bay as the gateway to the [Eurobodalla] Shire, including for our tourists from Canberra,” he said.
“It would be a great benefit if they can hop in an aircraft and be here in under an hour, rather than [using] the dodgy Clyde Mountain Road.”
Mr Stuart said a seaplane route through Batemans Bay would also bring more than convenience for users.
“A commuter service from Sydney would be helpful too,” he said.
“That’s sure to make it attractive to people who want to conduct business here.”
Mr Stuart said there had been “overwhelming support” from Batemans Bay residents to the proposed seaplanes.
“There’s always a couple of naysayers, but I’ve spoken to a few locals and they think there’d be nothing nicer than sitting on the banks of the Clyde with their coffees and seeing the seaplanes land or take off,” he said.
“The business chamber sees this as vital to energising businesses in our community – and so we’re pushing hard for it.
“I don’t want to pre-empt the prices, but from my discussions I believe it is going to be extremely economical when compared to existing routes.”
Sydney Seaplanes CEO and co-founder Aaron Shaw said he was excited to be involved in the plans.
“We’re enthusiastically pursuing the opportunity,” he said.
“My understanding is that work has not yet been done [to make the pontoon suitable for seaplanes], but it is imminent.
“Batemans Bay fits quite well into our model, and we believe there is enough demand to justify a service there from Sydney Harbour once the work is done.”
Mr Shaw said the planes used by his company could land on water and concrete.
“Batemans Bay can be subject to quite severe storms from time to time or big squalls that come in through the heads,” he said.
“What that means is that if the weather’s not suitable at Batemans Bay – and it’s not going to be suitable on some occasions – we can always use Moruya Airport.”